21 April, 2020
A construction firm has been fined £55,620 after a 17-year-old worker fell through an opening for a roof light. The roof light had been covered with a sheet of insulation and the area had been left unmarked and unguarded. The worker suffered multiple broken bones in his right leg, and it was reported that it was unlikely he could work in construction again.
The HSE carried out an investigation and found that "the inexperienced young employee was not supervised properly and was unaware of the risks on site". Furthermore, it was noted that "there were no physical warnings that there was a hole or a fragile surface, and no verbal warning had been circulated to workers on site". The company failed to ensure that work at height was properly planned and appropriately supervised.
Mark Holland Group Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and was fined £55,620.
It was reported by the HSE that despite this incident, the company continued to fail to ensure work at height was planned and managed on site. Numerous failings were identified by the HSE during subsequent visits to the construction site. Where failings have been highlighted by the HSE those responsible must take urgent steps to rectify any contravention or else the relevant persons/company might face further prosecution, increased fines in accordance with the Sentencing Guidelines or even imprisonment.
A gate fabricator has been fined £19,327 after an eight-year-old girl was crushed by a steel gate at a school in London. The girl had been leaving an evening club at the school when the sliding gate fell on her. She suffered multiple fractures to her pelvis as well as internal injuries.
A HSE investigation found that the mechanism in place to prevent the sliding gate from overrunning or falling over was "insufficient if the gate was opened robustly". The girl had opened the gate and it had become disengaged from the rollers holding it up, and the momentum caused it to 'ride over' the stop. With nothing to hold it in position, it fell on the girl.
Metalart Fabrication Limited who designed, manufactured and installed the gate pleaded guilty to breaching Section 6(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £19,327, including full costs of £1,147 and a victim surcharge of £180.
There has been a significant number of injuries in recent years involving children (including some fatalities) as a result of poorly designed, manufactured or installed gates. Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Sarah Whittle said: "The failure to fit suitable end-stops meant that the gate was an accident waiting to happen and could have fallen on anyone at any time with life threatening consequences."
The HSE carried out a number of inspections at a construction site in London, following which the site manager and company director was served with two Prohibition Notices and his company, was served with two Prohibition Notices and two Improvement Notices. The Improvement Notice for competent advice was not complied with.
The Company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 15(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015; and Section 21 of The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was ordered to pay a fine of £60,000 plus a surcharge of £170 and full costs of £5216.46
The Director also pleaded guilty to breaching Section 21 of The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was sentenced to 18 weeks' imprisonment suspended for 12 months, 180 hours of unpaid work, and was ordered to pay a surcharge of £115, and full costs of £5060.69.
Improvement Notices are used when a HSE inspector is of the opinion that a person is contravening a statutory provision; or has contravened a provision in circumstances that make it likely that the contravention will continue or be repeated. When an Improvement Notice is served, the person will be required to remedy the contravention within a specified period. Improvement and Prohibition Notices must be complied with. The level of the fine and the sentence in this case reflects the seriousness of the failure to comply with the Improvement Notice. The prosecution demonstrates that the HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall foul of health and safety legislation.
It has been reported by the CQC that the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution has been fined £50,000 plus legal costs, following an incident at a care home in which a resident sustained serious injuries.
In 2016, a resident fell and became stuck against a hot pipe, suffering significant burns to her back. The CQC investigation found the organisation had "failed in their duty to implement systems and processes to protect people from hot surfaces, meaning the incident could have been avoided".
The care provider pleaded guilty to failing to provide safe care and treatment, resulting in avoidable harm to a resident of the home.
Regrettably, the risk of serious burns from uncovered pipes and radiators appears to be a common problem in care homes. Care home providers must implement systems and train staff to prevent such accidents from occurring.
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